In a move intended to help combat declining attendance, the Big 12 will begin showing highlights from other contests during games.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced the initiative during Big 12 Media Days on Monday:
“We feel like our attendance has remained relatively strong,” Bowlsby said Monday to kick off Big 12 Media Days, saying the conference has played to 85 percent capacity. “But nationwide, we’re seeing … numbers declining.
“I think bringing highlights in will take into account and help one of the things that is getting to be a challenge for us.”
“I really think it’s going to be a terrific thing for our fans,” Bowlsby said. “One item that will keep people from staying home in front of their televisions.
“We see people that have a 60-inch television, (internet) on their laps, no lines at the restroom, no charge for concessions, have a cold beer when they want to, don’t have to spend 6-8 hours traveling to and from the stadium.
“It’s something we’re excited about and think will greatly enhance the stadium experience.”
The plan is to show close-to-live highlights during the lengthy and frequent television timeouts those attending games have to suffer through. Last year’s college football attendance was the lowest since 2003, and across the country, teams and leagues are looking to combat the dip.
At Michigan, athletic director Dave Brandon is switching to a general admission policy for students in a hope to reduce the 50-percent late arrival rate. The Wolverines averaged 5,434 student no-shows per game, or about 25 percent of their student ticket allotment. At Michigan State, AD Mark Hollis is mulling a reduction in the number of students tickets made available after a streak of no-shows. Hollis hypothesized that students didn’t attend a rainy 2012 game against Iowa due to their inability to text and tweet in the precipitation.
This is not just a college football issue. Consider what the Jacksonville Jaguars may try during their home games:
Expanding on the comforts of home theme, the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars are considering airing the league's RedZone Channel on its massive video boards, This would give fans at EveBank Field a chance to view any NFL game as soon as one team gets down within their opponent's 20 yard line.
"We know we are competing with ourselves when it comes to watching games at home or coming to the stadium," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. "The RedZone Channel expands the stadium offerings."
The battle Bowlsby, Brandon, Hollis and the Jaguars are all fighting comes down to the appeal of attending a single games versus watching a dozen games on a giant HD flatscreen in the comfort of your own home. Winning is usually the easiest way to pack stadiums, but acknowledging that there are other games going on – via in-game highlights or just strengthening stadium wifi infrastructure so fans can check scores on their phones – probably won’t hurt the cause.
What changes - if any - could college football make to get you to attend more games?